Kashmir - " The Paradise on Earth "
The valley of Kashmir is known all over the world for its beauty and charm. Set like a jeweled crown on the map of India. The Kashmir valley is situated about 300 kms. from Jammu across forested ravines and steep mountain passes. The Mughal Emperor Jahangir is said to have once written about Kashmir: Agar firdaus bar rue zamin ast hamin asto, hamin asto, hamin ast! (“If there be paradise on earth, it is here, it is here, it is here!”). There are various trekking routes available across whole of Kashmir. Adventure sports in the form of water rafting and paragliding, among others, are available at various tourist locations. The Royal Springs’ Golf course in the heart of Srinagar on the shores of the world famous Dal Lake is one of the most beautiful golf courses around. There is a small 18-hole golf course in Gulmarg. Spring is the time when Kashmir bursts into a riot of colors and millions of flowers carpet the landscape. Popular tourist places in the valley are Gulmarg that has a ski resort, Dal Lake that has popular house boats, Pahalgam and Amaranth Temple. Before insurgency intensified in 1989, tourism formed an important part of the Kashmiri economy. The tourism economy in the Kashmir valley was worst hit. Thousands of Hindu pilgrims visit holy shrine of Amaranth every year and this significantly benefits the state’s economy. But this yatra has put Kashmir on the verge of ecological disaster . You can take Kashmir tour package and easily cover all tourist places in Kashmir within 06 to 07 days.
The capital city Srinagar is the prized possession of the Vale of Kashmir. Imbibing many colors of the state, it reflects the authentic Jammu & Kashmir. The city sits quietly on the bank of Jhelum and contemplates the vivaciousness. The canopied Shikara boats, plush houseboats, snow-capped mountains and the sparkling water of Dal and Nageen Lake come together to bring the picture of authentic Srinagar come alive.
Protected and blessed by Mata Vaishno Devi, who seems to have found her earthly abode on the Trikuta Hills, Jammu City is indeed amongst the top places to visit in Jammu & Kashmir. Dubbed as the City of Temples, Jammu invites those seeking peace and tranquillity.
Dubbed as skiers’ paradise, Gulmarg is indeed amongst the best places to visit in Jammu & Kashmir. Located approximately 52kms away from capital city Srinagar, Meadow of Flowers as it is popularly called Gulmarg is a haven for adventure enthusiasts.
Needless to say that without a visit to Sonmarg, a trip to Jammu & Kashmir would be incomplete. Blessed with unmatched landscape, Sonmarg make for an extravagant visual treat.
The green meadows and the lofty mountains are followed with tranquility and serenity in Pahalgam. The beauty of this small exceptional town does by no means can be a disappointment for an ardent nature lover.
It is often seen that whenever Katra is discussed; it is referred merely as a base camp for devotees who visit Vaishno Devi. But, there is certainly more to explore in Katra. Situated around 42kms from Jammu, Katra is one of the most picturesque places in Jammu.
Perched on a hilltop at an altitude of 2024m, Patnitop offers overwhelming view of the Shivalik Range. It is one destination in Jammu region that is widely acclaimed for its immense beauty and the abundant fun activities.
Raghunath Temple is one of the largest temple in North India and is located in Jammu. It was built by Maharaja Gulab Singh and his son Ranbir Singh. There are seven shrines, each having its own Shikhara, present at the site of the temple. Raghunath Temple enshrines many idols of the Hindu gods and goddesses but its presiding deity is Lord Rama. The inner walls of the main temple is covered with gold sheet and there are galleries with lakhs of ‘ Saligrams ‘. This temple attracts many tourists for its historical representation and millions of devotees visit to get the blessings.
Situated on the Zabarwan mountain in Srinagar, Kashmir, Shankaracharya Temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva. Visiting this temple involves the devotees to trek to the top of the hill on which it stands, about 1100 feet above the plains. Built in 371 BC, the great saint Shankaracharya is said to have stayed there during his visit to Kashmir.
One of the sacred mosques of India, Jamia Masjid, is situated in Srinagar. The beautiful architecture of the mosque which is donned with a magnanimous courtyard and 370 wooden pillars makes it an attraction of Jammu and Kashmir. With a squared garden to accommodate devotees the mosque can accommodate about 100,000 people at peak time. Built in 1400 AD, the beauty of this religious place has survived and been retained in the valley.
This religious shrine dedicated to Lord Shiva is located 141 kms away from Srinagar and is reached via Pahalgam town. It is considered to be one of the epitomes for the devotees of Lord Shiva. Millions of worshippers fight the odds of weather, amidst the challenging terrain to visit the ice stalagmite inside. Surrounded by mountains the cave is open for a brief period in summers for the pilgrims as the rest of the time the cave is covered with snow and not reachable for the visitors. Popularly known as the Amarnath Yatra, the devotees come in thousands during the visiting time and offer their prayers.
One of the most auspicious places for Hindus is Vaishno Devi located in the Trikuta mountains of Jammu and Kashmir. Fondly calls as ‘Maa’ devotees travel hours and walk miles to offer their prayers to the deity. At an altitude of 5200 ft., pilgrims wait for ‘Mata Ka Bulava’ and wait patiently in the worshippers queue for a single sight of Mata Rani.
Cherry Festival, Kashmir: (2nd week of May)
A plentiful of Cherry varieties can be purchased in summer at the Cherry Festivals, held across Kashmir.
Water Sports Festival, Srinagar: (July/August)
Nageen Lake, Manasbal Lake and Dal Lake are the venues for sporting activities like water skiing, boat races, water scooter rides etc.
Like all other places in India the festivals of Lohri is celebrated on the 13th of January in the Jammu city as well. Mainly a Punjabi festival, Lohri welcomes the commencement of the spring season, after the end of winter. This festival is celebrated mainly after sunset. A bonfire is lit and people offer things like sweets, puffed rice, popcorn, etc into it. This festival is also known as Makar Sankranti. The whole region wears a festive look on this day. A special dance called the ‘Chajja’ is held on the occasion of Lohri.
Baisakhi marks the commencement of harvesting season in northern India. On this day, melas (fairs) are organized in the Jammu city. Other attractions of Baisakhi in Jammu include Bhangra and other dance performances.
Purmandal is 39 kms from Jammu city. On Shivratri, the town wears a festive look for three days as people celebrate the marriage of Lord Shiva to Goddess Parvati. The people of Jammu also come out in their colourful best to celebrate Shivratri at Peer Khoh, the Ranbireshwar Temple and the Panjbhaktar Temple.
Navratra Festival, Katra:
Though the yatra to the shrine of Mata Vaishno Devi is a round-the-year event, the one undertaken during the Navratras is considered the most auspicious. In order to showcase and highlight the regional culture, heritage and traditions of the area during this period, the State Tourism Department has instituted the Navratra Festival as an annual event to be held during September / October for all the nine auspicious days of the Navratras. A large number of tourists pay their obeisance to the deity during this period. This festival showcases the religious traditions as well as the popular culture of the region among the millions of pilgrims who visit the Vaishnodeviji Shrine during this period.
- Area : 222,236 km2
- Elevation : 327 m
- Population : 12.55 million (2011)
- Capitals : Jammu (Winter), Srinagar (Summer)
- Universities : University of Kashmir
There are daily flights to Srinagar from Delhi, Mumbai and Jammu. Srinagar airport is 14 kms from the city.
By Rail/ Train
Jammu is the nearest railway station for Srinagar, about 305 kms where trains arrive from Delhi, Calcutta, Pune, Mumbai, Kanyakumari, Ahmedabad, etc.
National Highway 1-A, connecting Srinagar with Jammu, is a good, all-weather road with several sharp inclines and hairpin bends. It is maintained by the Border Roads Organization (BRO), which clears the road of any obstructions resulting from natural causes like landslides and heavy snowfall. The famous Jawahar Tunnel that connects Jammu with the Kashmir Valley across the Pir Panjal range falls en route. Before the Jawahar Tunnel was completed, the journey took two days with an overnight stop at Batote. Now, it can be covered in one long day. It is also possible to travel by taxi from Jammu to Srinagar in about 8 hours.